Over the past month I’ve been a little distracted from Elemendar’s cutting edge technical work by everything else that leading a business involves, so I’m going to talk just a little (it’s a big topic that I could talk about for days!) about something else that’s close to my heart, especially in our industry: diversity and inclusion.
As an out, gay trans woman I have experienced some rather fascinating insights about the different treatment one receives depending on how your gender is read. At the start of my career, people I met assumed that I was on the technical side and was as competent as everyone around me; but now, despite having the same qualifications and much, much deeper experience, most assume that they know more than me or that I work in our marketing department. Which leads me to having to prove myself more than I ever thought I would and change the way I naturally communicate. For example, did you know that a woman laughing or making jokes in meetings or presentations is generally interpreted as weakness, whereas in men it is interpreted as strength and confidence? It’s a minefield out there!
When I first moved to Brighton three years ago I wanted to meet others who were facing similar challenges, as well as meet more people in the local tech scene. This is how I discovered Codebar, a fantastic initiative that teaches members of groups that are underrepresented in the tech industry (e.g. women, people of colour, LGBTQ+) how to code. Helping out with teaching has been rewarding, though I haven’t had the time to contribute as much as I would like. But the most exciting part has been seeing the personal growth of young developers as they arrive with little confidence and some interest, to landing their first full time job a year later. In the Brighton chapter alone, I know of at least half a dozen who’ve managed this and it’s simply wonderful to see. My hope is that these fledgling developers will soon join me in the wonderful world of artificial intelligence and machine learning, to work on reducing the negative impact that biases would otherwise have on algorithmic decisions.
TL;DR Elemendar and I love the Codebar initiative and I strongly encourage people to get involved with their local branch, whether to learn more or to support as a teacher!